THE Tories have been branded the “political wing of the fossil fuel industry” after an analysis found that ministers met with energy firms 53 times in three months.

This accounts for around 22.5% of all lobbying meetings held during the period (236), with an average of a meeting every two days between a government minister and a fossil fuel company, the analysis found.

Global Witness, an organisation that investigates and exposes environmental and human rights abuses, published the analysis after the Prime Minister signaled the government’s intent to sign off on hundreds of new oil and gas licences.

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The announcement prompted fury from environmental campaigners and youth activists, while the SNP likened the policy to Donald Trump’s “drill baby, drill” campaign slogan.

Global Witness examination of lobbying meetings examined meetings held with firms and ministers at the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero.

The department is headed by Grant Shapps as Secretary of State, while Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, serves as minister for energy security and net zero.

Parliamentary under secretaries and junior ministers Andrew Bowie (pictured below), West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Amanda Solloway, Derby North, and Lord Martin Callanan were also included in the analysis.

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EDF Energy representatives logged 10 meetings with Tory ministers, BP took part in nine and Shell and SSE both clocked up nine meetings in three months.

Norwegian state-owned oil firm Equinor held six meetings, Drax, a power generation company and owner of a coal-fuelled power station in North Yorkshire, took part in five meetings.

Meanwhile, Scottish Power was noted in six separate meetings during the analysis period.

Global Witness said that the meetings included were attended by companies that produce or burn fossil fuels as a “substantial” part of their business model and also included trade associations where fossil fuel companies are members.

This includes the Offshore Wind Acceleration Task Force, including companies such as BP and Shell, who held two meetings.

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Alice Harrison, fossil fuels campaign leader at Global Witness, said: “The Conservative party is the political wing of the fossil fuel industry.

“Rishi Sunak set off in his private jet to do the industry’s dirty work in Scotland on Monday, and has invited them all for tea at Downing Street on Wednesday.

“The prime minister’s decision to double down on expensive, dirty and unreliable North Sea oil, most of which will be exported, serves no one but big oil executives.''

The Scottish Greens said the analysis showed that fossil fuel giants and polluters couldn’t ask for a “better friend” than Rishi Sunak.

The National:

“His climate-destroying plans will only serve to line the pockets of their shareholders while taking us closer to environmental breakdown,” Mark Ruskell MSP (pictured above) said.

"This week's drilling announcement was probably the most consequential thing he will do as Prime Minister, and he couldn't have been more reckless. He can see the climate chaos that is being unleashed across the world and is doubling down on the fossil fuels that are causing it.

"We need an urgent and just transition from oil and gas to clean, green and homegrown renewable energy. That is the only way that we can hit our climate targets and do our bit to ensure a sustainable future.”

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Ruskell added that Downing Street has shown “consistent contempt and disregard” for environmental policies like the DRS as well as Scottish devolution.

"We are taking important steps in Scotland, but so much of that work is being undone by a Tory government that is all too aware of the terrible damage that its policies are doing but simply doesn't care,” he added.

The Conservative Party have been contacted for comment.